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Government of Canada invests in research to tackle prescription drug abuse, addiction


The federal government has announced the Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse (CRISM), a national research network aimed at improving the health of Canadians living with prescription drug abuse, addiction and substance misuse.

Prescription drug abuse is a significant public health and safety concern in North America. Drugs like opioids, sedative-hypnotics and stimulants are legal and have proven therapeutic benefits, but they also have a high potential for harms such as addiction, withdrawal, injury and death. 

Canadian organizations are seeing the effects of opioid abuse in the form of turnover, absenteeism, lost productivity and more accidents. Psychoactive drugs impair a person’s ability to move, think and exercise judgment, which have widespread implications.

The 2012 Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey (CADUMS) indicates about 410,000 Canadians reported abusing psychoactive pharmaceuticals in the past year, more than double the number in 2011.

In 2012, about one million youth, aged 15 to 24 years, reported having used a psychoactive pharmaceutical in the past 12 months. About 210,000 of these youth also reported having abused them.

"Prescription drug abuse and addiction is a significant public health concern across Canada," said Minister of Health Rona Ambrose. "This research as well as other initiatives support prevention, treatment and recovery from drug and substance abuse, and help those affected to lead healthier lives."

Led by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), CRISM represents a $7.2 million investment over five years from the federal government.

CRISM brings together four large teams composed of researchers, service providers, and representatives of people living with substance misuse. These teams will identify interventions and programs that are tailored to individuals, applicable in clinical and community intervention settings and "quickly and easily" implemented by health service providers and users, said the federal government.

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